In December the heated waterer for my chickens opted to discontinue functionality. Thankfully I follow several chicken bloggers and many of them spoke of making their own cookie tin water heater. Since I didn’t have $50 to replace the waterer or buy a heater, I set myself to build a quick cookie tin water heater. The cookie tin cost $1 and the socket with cord was $6. I didn’t purchase the equipment that others had to build the socket into the side of the tin so I simply cut a slot into the side of the tin and laid the cord inside. This worked phenomenally and got me through the bitter cold that had my barn at a toasty -22 (it was -45 with wind chill outside!) A week after the cold snap, the heater wasn’t working. Turns out that the plastic socket couldn’t handle the heat generated inside the cookie tin and it had fried the on/off switch.
So I am back to using a small 1 quart heated dish – not acceptable. Yesterday I went to the hardware in search of items necessary to make a more resilient heater. I picked up a galvanized pan ($5.99), porcelain socket ($5.29), heavy-duty switch ($2.29). While looking for the items I thought I needed an employee asked if he could help. I told him what I was planning and he said, well you might want to let someone else help you out – wouldn’t want to electrocute those chickens. Told him messing it up would be a challenge since it was simply a matter of making sure the hot was wired to hot, and grounds were wired to grounds. Mother reminded me that not everyone has the opportunity to know the difference between hot and grounds. Thanks (AGAIN) to Dad for making sure we understood so many basic principles and Mom for making sure we knew how to learn what we didn’t understand.
In case any one is concerned about doing wiring yourself, I thought I would show how easy it is. First, you will want to drill holes in your galvanized pan. I was able to find PLENTY of bolts and nuts to attach the porcelain socket to the pan. If you don’t have a ready supply of those, might want to buy some at the hardware. I also drilled a larger hole at what will be the bottom of the pan to run wiring out. There are actually only 2 holes I’m using to attach the socket to, but because I didn’t tighten it down and drill the 2nd hole I ended up having it off by 1/8″ so I had to drill an other hole. It happens, not the end of the world. OH, if you aren’t familiar with drill bits – the shiny bits typically are for wood, the black ones work on metal.
Then you can attach your porcelain socket to the pan with a couple of bolts and nuts. I have it wired already in this picture. Then you can start wiring 🙂 I used the plug from the waterer that quit working, just took it apart and took out the wiring. Black wires are typically hot, white wires are ground. The switch interrupts the hot signal to turn something off. I had two sections of wire, so I attached the white ground wires together in the switch box and attached the black ends to the screw points by simply stripping about 1/4″ of the coating off and making a hook out of the exposed wires. Once that hook is around the screw, simply screw it down to hold the wires into place.
Since I am going to be using this in the barn around water I wanted to add some additional protection so I added Buytl tape. This is a soft putty that is used around windshields. Uncle Wayne introduced me to it. I just rolled it out into a thin strip and put it all along the edge before screwing the two halves back together. I wrapped a small string of Buytl around the where the wires feed in to make certain that no moisture could get through there either.
Wrap the wiring with electrical tape. And feed the end through the pan so you can hook it up to the socket. To identify where to hook up the hot and ground, the hot wire is going to connect to the screw that will provide electricity to the light bulb. The ground will not be touching any thing. You can see in the picture above that the white ground wire is going to the white screw. The hot black wire is going to the gold screw which connects to the gold plate at the bottom of the socket and will conduct electricity to the bulb. The second part of the porcelain socket screws on top of the wiring to protect it.
I did not leave any excess wiring inside the pan where the heat will collect – I pulled it out and then mounted the switch to the outside of the pan with a little more buytl tape (LOVE THIS STUFF). And guess what – works PERFECTLY. It’s out in the barn now warming up the waterer. One thing I will add is a sheet of metal to attach to the bottom to assure that flammable material doesn’t get into the heated area. Not too worried about electrocuting the chickens, but I certainly wouldn’t want to roast them either.
If you found this article interesting, you might enjoy;
- Installing a Flagpole – Mom and I thought it would be no problem to put in a 25′ flagpole.
- Uncle Wayne’s Gizzards – Another gift I love from my Uncle Wayne.
- Being the Favorite – The special way my parents show their love.
- The Chicken Chick